Approach to Challenging Behavior

This study presents relationships between positive behavior support and family support principles for children with developmental disabilities. It also talks about changes that occurred over the past two decades in applying behavior techniques to children with challenging behavior problems. While applied behavior analysis was centered on decreasing behavior problems in a child with disabilities by the experts, positive behavior support was based on a collaborative approach between parents and professionals when the parents become specialists. Using parent experience and training, this study focuses on family as a client and lifestyle problems of the person with behavior problems. In other words, the authors of the article address the need of considering the family unit as a focal point of intervention rather than simply behavior problems of one family member with disabilities. The authors used empirical literature to explain their focus of study. They emphasize interconnection between parts of the family and claim that problems of one family member affect the whole family.


The authors support their proposal by using one case study. A family with three children with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder participated in the current study. All three children had challenging behaviors. Professionals met with the family to discuss the issues to be addressed in the study inviting all members of the family to participate. Functional assessment data collected identified the function of the problem behavior for each child. The mother of these children identified appropriate reinforcement according to the function of the problem behaviors to motivate her children to perform appropriate behaviors. Data collected showed positive changes in the children’s behavior. Due to the parents’ refusal to participate in the follow-up data collection, information obtained from the parents’ reports was limited. It was apparent that they were satisfied with the support that was given to them as well as with the problem behavior decrease.